Evaluate the View That People Act as ‘Lay Scientists’ in Interpreting Their Social World, Perceiving and Analysing Information in an Objective, Rational Manner.

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Evaluate the view that people act as ‘lay scientists’ in interpreting their social world, perceiving and analysing information in an objective, rational manner. Social cognition considers the way people interpret social reality in everyday interactions, processing information about people, the self, and the norms of their social world. Processing occurs on automatic and controlled levels being influenced by cognitive and motivational factors. The interdisciplinary perspective of experimental social psychology, which blends the traditions of cognitive and social psychology, aims to understand these processes. Exploring the theories, perspectives and evidence which frame social cognition, the view that people are ‘lay scientists’ acting with objectivity and rationality in interpreting their social world will be evaluated. Within the field of social psychology, attribution theory asserts a motivational basis of how people construct common sense explanations of their social world. Heider and Simmel discovered people go beyond sensory information to make explanatory inferences (as cited in Buchanan, Anand, Joffe and Thomas, 2007, pp.60-1). Heider proposed people make inferences by attributing an internal or external dimension of casualty (as cited in Buchanan et al., 2007, p.72). Knowing the locus of causality provides a foundation to construct models of cause and effect. Therefore, making attributions gives people order and predictability to control their lives. Adopting this systematic, organizational framework, Heider proposed people use ‘naive psychology’ to explain their social world (as cited in Buchanan et al., 2007, p.60). Jones and Davis’s suggested people are more likely to make internal attributions. This is motivated by peoples need to view others behaviour as intentional and predictable which can be applied beneficially over multiple situations.

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